The proverbial “fat lady” is warming up her vocal cords on the Toronto Blue Jays 2019 season which could also mark the end of Justin Smoak’s tenure north of the border.
There is no denying the Blue Jays are rebuilding while forging ahead with the youth movement. The brain trust has already nearly ridden themselves of every player on their roster that was near or on the backside of thirty.
However, there are a number of factors that could suggest that Justin Smoak could still be an asset for the Blue Jays moving forward. The first baseman is not going to command a considerable raise over the $8 million he is currently earning and he will be lucky to secure a two-year pact on the open market.
The Blue Jays still do not know what they have in Rowdy Tellez as the youngster still struggles to make consistent contact and sometimes has a lackluster effort level.
The rookies all recently spoke publicly about Smoak and the value he brings to the ball club in a fantastic article authored by Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun. Cavan Biggio gushed about the veteran first baseman saying:
"“He’s a guy who has a relationship with every single guy in this locker room, no matter if they’re an up-and-down guy or if they’re playing every day,” It just shows how much he emphasizes being a good teammate and it just shows the kind of person he is overall."
"“He’s a guy who you look at and say, ‘Okay, that’s how it’s supposed to be done.’ Anything he does, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”"
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Regardless of whether the brain trust wishes to admit it, the team needs a couple of veteran presences in the room to police the kids and make sure they are being held accountable. Former pitcher Marcus Stroman mentioned this in the past but of course, it fell on deaf ears.
The 33-year old has not hit for average this season but he still has 22 big flies and 58 runs batted in thus far. Smoak is five home runs away from breaking the franchise record for most homers by a switch hitter. Currently, Jose Cruz Jr. holds the mark with 122 while Smoak is five off the pace with 117.
Smoak is not going to break the bank, sign him on a 2-year/ $18 million dollar pact as insurance for Tellez, there are enough at-bats to go around. He will get you close to 25 home runs and provide leadership while acting as a sounding board for the rookies as they attempt to build a winner over the next two seasons.
If not Justin Smoak, then who?